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Call for participation: Workshop on Argumentation Technology for Policy Deliberation (IMPACT project)

27. November 2012 – 13:32 by Zebralog

/Please note: This post is not from Hans Hagedorn, but from Steffen Albrecht @ Zebralog…/

In conjunction with the 25th International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems (JURIX 2012, Amsterdam, 17-20 December 2012), the Workshop on Argumentation Technology for Policy Deliberation will present the results of the European FP7 IMPACT Project, along with invited talks by leading developers and users of argumentation tools for supporting public participation in policy deliberations on the World-Wide-Web.

The workshop will take place on Monday, December 17, at the University of Amsterdam.

For information about the workshop program and organizational details, please consult the JURIX website. Looking forward to seeing you in Amsterdam!

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Webinar invitation: New online tools to support argumentation in policy debates

8. August 2012 – 12:23 by Zebralog

/Please note: This post is not from Hans Hagedorn, but from Steffen Albrecht @ Zebralog – Hans’ avatar is displayed because of a malfunction of PEP-NET’s profile function – we’ll try to fix this…/

Get involved in the latest developments of  eParticipation tools!

Policy analysts, decision makers as well as civil society stakeholders and other people interested in policy-making all have to cope with numerous arguments brought forward in policy debates. The EU-sponsored IMPACT project develops open source online tools that help to make sense of the range of opinions about public policies expressed in policy consultations.

In a series of webinars, four new prototype tools will be presented, followed by an evaluation of the tools in which participants can discuss further improvements and the potential impact of the tools on policy-making. Based on material from the EU’s consultation on the Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy, the participants will learn how to formalise and visualise arguments, how to estimate the effects of policy proposals with the help of policy modelling, and how opinions about arguments are assessed with the help of structured consultations.

We invite all PEP-NET members and readers of this blog to participate!
Please register for one of the following dates on this website:

The following dates are available:

Webinar with focus on argument reconstruction & visualization:

Webinar with focus on policy modelling & structured consultation:

Further information is available here. If you have any questions, please contact Steffen Albrecht:

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YOUR involvement in the future PEP-NET

12. June 2010 – 12:00 by Zebralog

PEP-NET will become a new organisation in autumn. The funding period will end and therefore all members — associate and founding — have to decide about their involvement in the future network. There is a concrete proposal from the network coordinator, which was discussed on the last PEP-NET meeting in Krems (see e-mail from John on the 31st of May).

There was both approval and there were also alternative proposals. Thus Francesco Molinari decided to conduct a survey among all members to get a clearer picture of the different interests.

Here are the results of the survey (PDF, 2.5 MB)

There are 3 key conclusions that we leave open for comments and future action:

  1. Demand: The good response rate (see chapter “Technical Information”) is an indicator that there is a broad interest in the continuation of PEP?NET. Additionally there is a core of about 10 committed members who are willing to contribute by a considerable amount of money (see analysis of Question #4). This gives a clear signal that there is strong demand for a new PEP?NET after the end of the EU funded project.
  2. Supply: Realised networking opportunities during the last years remained below the very high initial expectations (see analysis of Question #4). Therefore, the next discussion should focus particularly on this issue and should try to find answers to the following question: How can we improve networking opportunities for the different member groups?
  3. Proposals: The survey was the first step to collect concrete proposals from the
    members for the design of the new organisation. Thus, we have to analyse the answers to question #8 in more detail. A volunteer could (a) cluster the proposals and comments received into groups and (b) find speaking headlines for each group.

On June the 25th a Temporary Steering Committee will meet in Berlin and will sort the existing proposals. There will be TuTech’s strategy paper as well as hopefully many short or long contributions. They might fit together or might propose alternative directions.

The Temporary Steering Committee will decide about the next steps. They might organise a broad online-debate amoung all members with specific questions arising in the papers, e.g. about the governance structure or the obligatory contributions of members in terms of money or duties. You can take part in the meeting’s video session on Friday, 25th of June at 16:00-17:00 CET. Please e-mail to Daniel (droleff ÄT to get the details.

From your perspective: What are your conclusions from the study? What are your proposals for the services of the new organisation, its legal framework and its business model? Please write us any thoughts, short or long! And be aware: If you do not contribute to this crucial discussion, your organisation might suffer, because the memberships might become too expensive or the network might become too lame, or whatever…

You can submit your proposal by e-mail or leave a comment on this article. Please send your contributions before the 24th of June.

On behalf of the temporary steering committee
Hans Hagedorn

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Hope+ – yet another online portal to change the world?

18. December 2009 – 16:07 by Zebralog

Today it’s the last day of the climate conference in Copenhagen – and today a new global, multilingual web portal is being launched: the website, entitled Hope+ (speak: Hope Plus), wants to allow people to work together on social issues and social campaigns. As Phil Noble from PoliticsOnline, by which Hope+ is led, writes in a newsletter, the website will allow its members to develop their own projects with “measurable goals”.

It seems a bit too sophisticated that Hope+ is promoted as the “first global portal for social change” – because its aims and the campaigning tools remind strongly of other campaigning websites like, or the German They all share the idea of connecting people online, get them into action and make the world a better place to live in.


So is Hope+ just yet another online portal to change the world? What can it achieve what the other social campaigning projects did not achieve yet? Or, to use economic language, what is the unique selling point of Hope+?
According to its organizers, Hope+ will focus strongly on the individual social causes posted by the users and use the social network relationships of all members to complete the campaigns.

What Hope+ already did achieve – and in this point it differs from the other websites mentioned earlier: PoliticsOnline could invite a lot of financially strong and popular founding partners, like Bill Gates from Microsoft. The organizers also asked Barack Obama to support Hope+. This strategy already let to a small media buzz, especially Obamas endorsement attracted interest and got people hooked.

But big names and high ambitions also create big expectations. We’ll keep an eye on the project and will see how Hope+ develops and if the Obama-hype is strong enough to carry this project. It will be also interesting to see how Hope+ and the other social campaigning websites get along in the future, if there will be co-operations or a mere coexisting.

Simone Gerdesmeier, Zebralog Berlin

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Online climate change debates – can they influence the outcome of COP15?

27. November 2009 – 18:13 by Zebralog

cop15_logo_d_s On December 7th and 8th the COP15 will take place: Politicians, IGOs and NGOs will meet in the Danish capital and discuss how to reduce carbon emissions to decrease global warming. They aim to sign a new agreement for climate protection, a follow up of the Kyoto protocol. In forefront of the Copenhagen event, online debates try to influence the discussions’ outcome.

The Kyoto protocol will expire in 2012. Until then, a new global agreement on climate change is needed. But the outcome of COP15 – the Copenhagen Climate Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Conventions on Climate Changeis still unclear; experts suppose that COP15 will end with a political agreement signed by world leaders instead of with a binding treaty. Especially that the US Senate delayed a decision about a climate change legislation bill lowered the expectations for the Copenhagen meeting.

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How democratic countries try to control the Internet

23. September 2009 – 12:41 by Zebralog

Controlling Internet Content is a sensitive issue for all governments – democratic or non-democratic. However, the kind of censorship applied in China or Iran is a complex matter and should be discussed by other authors. This article gives a short overview of current activities in recognized democratic countries. It raises the question, if national regulation of the Net is appropriate at all.

German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Ursula von der Leyen, recently caused a lot of protest from net activists. In an attempt to fight child pornography, she introduced a law that obliges Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to install „Stop-signs“ in front of corresponding websites. Her opponents criticize this plan, because of the stop-signs being technical insufficient (they can rather easily be circumvented through other DNS-Servers) and they just hide the problem instead of fighting it.

Protests against German Minister Ursula von der Leyen

German Minister Ursula von der Leyen facing protests against her Internet filtering plans. by jan.gosmann,, CC by US 2.0

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Profile photo of Zebralog – a blog-network for European topics

31. August 2009 – 14:08 by Zebralog is a blog platform dedicated to European affairs. It was launched in 2008 and it is managed by EurActiv,
a European news network. With Blogactiv, the EurActiv-team wants to give Europeans the possibility to “better engage in online in the political debate on key European issues”.

Blogactiv allows an interested public to set up own weblogs and write about their views on the European Union and about European developments concerning their own countries. Additionally there is a weblog for guests who don´t want to set up own blogs, but who want to post articles nevertheless.

The aim as it is published on the website is pretty ambitious: “Blogactiv will become the premier source of content on the future of Europe.” This still seems a way to go:
It is planned to allow blogging in ten languages – but at the moment writing on the platform is restricted to English, French and German. The other languages (e.g. Polish, Romanian and even Turkish) are still waiting to be activated.
While the English and French sections feature quite recent posts, most of them coming from journalists, political analysts, interest groups and so on, the German section is rather empty, the latest entries coming from summer 2008.

by Simone Gerdesmeier, Zebralog Berlin

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Why transferring Obamas campaign to Germany does not work

26. August 2009 – 13:25 by Zebralog

Expectation were high: The 2009 German Federal Election should be a real “online election” with big online campaigns, inspired by the success the Obama-campaign had had in 2008.

And indeed politicians like German chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) or the counter-candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) do have their profiles in well-known social networks: You can find their profiles on Facebook as well as on the German social networks StudiVZ and MeinVZ. Candidates´ logos and websites resemble Barrack Obamas Websites with big pictures, videos and links to other online activities (see Merkel, Steinmeier).

But does it transferring the American campaign to the German Federal Elections really work?
Micah Sifri says: No!

Sifri founded the web-portal Personal Democracy and writes for the weblog In an interview with the German web-format “Elektrischer Reporter” he says that the main problem is that the German elections are status-quo-elections rather than change elections: “In a status-quo-election, where the candidates are not exciting, the internet won´t change that.” Only when there is a desire and a real chance for political change, volunteers who can exhaust the possibilities of the internet get more important.
According to Sifrin, Obama had understood the power of these volunteers and of voter generated activity and did not concentrate on one specific tool or one specific network, but on a combination of them all. (You can view the video-interview here: . The audio is in English.)

Nevertheless some projects by civilians give an anticipation how a voter-driven activities online could look like in Germany. One of them is website “” (Wechselwähler meaning swing voter). Six swing voters moved in a shared flat where they will live until the elections. They blog about their political viewpoints and about recent news – and on each Sunday they have breakfast with a political guest. Videos of these Sunday roundtables can also be viewed on the website.

Simone Gerdesmeier, Zebralog Berlin

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BürgerForum Europa – a citizen´s dialogue about the future of Europe

3. June 2009 – 13:33 by Zebralog

The European Parliament will proclaim the United States of Europe? EU will grant basic financial security for all its citizens? After so many rejected referenda and strong suspicions against European politics, these ideas sound out of touch. However, they are just two examples from 16 solutions worked out by 361 citizens – randomly chosen in Germany – during a citizens’ dialogue about the EUs future.

Special about these ideas is that they were not gathered in a quick opinion poll. Instead they are the result of a focused discussion, combining offline- and online debate, in which citizens tested and qualified their original opinions. What are the abilities of such an online dialogue and where are its limitations? Read the rest of this entry »

Profile photo of Zebralog – and the next steps

19. January 2009 – 11:38 by Zebralog

Change-gov Barack Obama’s Transition Team promised to build the most open and tansparent transition of all times. How did they carry on Obama’s sucessful online election campaign and how did they involve citizens online? We had a close look at the engagement tools used on – the Citizen’s Briefing Book, the discussion forum “Join the Discussion” and a tool called “Open for Questions”. Furthermore we give some predictions of the next steps of Obama’s Administration Online-Team.

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